Getting ready for college is an exciting time for a student. You are about to experience all the wonderful things college has to offer, including campus life, classes, and meeting new people. But before you get carried away, there are some important things to keep in mind for starting your college scholarship search, because navigating through all the financial aid processes and applications can be confusing. The experts at CommunityForce have put this list together to help you start your scholarship search right:

Keep an eye out for scams

New college students are often a target for scholarship scams. This is because most college students are not completely sure about how the scholarship and financial aid process works. Be careful with how you search for scholarships because there are way more scam victims than you would expect. According to Daily Finance, the total number of scholarship scam victims in the U.S. is over 175,000. When searching for scholarships, remember to never give out your bank information or pay for a scholarship search.

Don’t disregard small scholarships

It’s tempting to keep your focus on that one big scholarship you applied for because it’s the one that would supply a substantial amount of money toward your education. The bigger the scholarship is, the more people will apply for it, and that means there will be significantly more competition. When students start their scholarship search, it’s easy to disregard scholarship offers of a smaller scale because they don’t think it’s worth the effort to apply for such a small amount of money. Small scholarships can really add up, and even if the scholarship is worth a couple of hundred dollars, it means you will have that much less in student loans.

Never stop applying for scholarships

Most students will only look for scholarships at the beginning of their college career, or when transitioning from high school to college. A lot of scholarships accept college applicants at any grade level. Just because you are not a freshman anymore doesn’t mean you can’t apply for scholarships.

Think of paying for college as putting up a poster –  the pieces of tape holding it up are scholarships. Yes, one large piece of tape at the beginning will hold it up, but not in the best way. Smaller pieces of tape spread throughout the entire poster will do a much better job.

Take effort into account

Sometimes there will be so much effort going into one scholarship that a lot of potential applicants don’t end up applying. This means there will not be a lot of competition for the program, and your chances of winning will be significantly greater. It won’t be fun to fulfill the requirements of the program, whether it be writing multiple papers, completing hours of community service, or interviews, but it will be worth it when you have some extra money for college.

Believe in your abilities

A lot of students will not apply for a scholarship because of a belief that they are underqualified or not smart enough to get it, but that’s not the right attitude. It will be much harder to impress in an interview or write an excellent essay if you constantly second-guess yourself.

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